By Sankara Kamara …..
In order to understand the capricious cruelty of the “Operational Support Division” of the Sierra Leone Police, a BRIEF history is needed to shine a spotlight on that particular branch of Sierra Leonean law enforcement. The Operational Support Division, known for short as OSD, came into existence in the early 1970s as a paramilitary unit, trained and armed to PROTECT Siaka Stevens’ one-party dictatorship. In French-speaking countries like Senegal and Guinea, the OSD would be known as the “National Gendarmerie,” an ancillary unit created for high-risk operations.
Whereas Guinea’s National Gendarmerie was devised for internal territorial defense, Sierra Leone’s paramilitary unit was conjoined to shoot, terrorize and kill in defense of Siaka Stevens’ tyranny. Originally known as the “Internal Security Unit,” ISU, the unit’s first Praetorian batch was trained in Cuba, in the 1970s.
From Internal Security Unit in the 1970s, Siaka Stevens’ APC changed the force’s name to “Special Security Division,” SSD. Licensed to kill with monstrous cruelty, the SSD was above the law, answerable only to Siaka Stevens, a slaughterous dictator.
Shortly before Siaka Stevens stepped down from the presidency in 1985, the dictator enmeshed the SSD in a foreign adventure, which almost pushed Sierra Leone into a bloodcurdling war with neighboring Liberia. During the dry season of 1985, a Liberian dissident, Thomas Quiwonkpa, wheedled his way into Siaka Stevens’ favor, ultimately securing a training base in Samu Chiefdom, Kambia District, for a commando attack on Liberia.
Hatched by Siaka Stevens, the plot to attack Liberia was inherited by President Joseph Momoh, who consummated and unleashed the conspiracy. Backed by elements from our Special Security Division, SSD, Thomas Quiwonkpa attacked Liberia from Southern Sierra Leone, almost overthrowing Samuel Doe. After several hours of bloodletting duels in Monrovia, Samuel Doe was narrowly saved by an Israeli-trained battalion from Camp Scheffling, which smashed Thomas Quiwonkpa with a withering firepower. As EVIDENCE of Sierra Leonean INVOLVEMENT in the invasion, the Liberian government paraded on NATIONAL TELEVISION, captured SSD personnel in Sierra Leonean battle-gear. Now known as the Operational Support Division, OSD, the paramilitary wing of the Sierra Leone Police was first christened “Internal Security Unit,” only to be mercurially rechristened, “Special Security Division,” SSD. The brutalities of that police unit constitute an ingrained part of its existence, chiseled into our history by its creator, Siaka Stevens. May God have mercy on politically unfortunate Sierra Leone.
© Sankara Kamara